Any killing of a grizzly bear in Wyoming must be reported immediately and will trigger a federal investigation into whether the killing was legitimate self-defense, a wildlife official said.
There have been two reported grizzly attacks in Wyoming in the past month. And in one of the incidents, the victim claimed to have hit the bear with several handgun rounds, possibly wounding or killing it.
If a grizzly is killed, the first call made should be to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the agency’s large carnivore expert, Dan Thompson, told Cowboy State Daily.
“As with any conflicts between grizzly bears and people, we want the person(s) involved to call us at Game and Fish as soon as possible so we can respond immediately and appropriately,” he said. “Human safety is always our top priority, so in the instances of self-defense we want to first make sure any people involved are OK and then assess each situation based on the details of what happened.”
Game and Fish agents also need to assess the nature of the attack to determine if the bear or bears involved might still be a threat to public safety, he said.
“Our department has a predator attack team with personnel specifically trained to deal with these types of scenarios from start to finish,” he said.
There have been two grizzly attacks in Wyoming this month. Two members of the Northwest College wrestling team were attacked by a bear outside of Cody on Oct. 15.
Lee Francis of Evanston said he acted in self-defense when he fired his 10 mm Glock pistol at a grizzly during an attack Friday in the Gro Ventre mountains.
Francis Told Cowboy State Daily that he’s sure he hit the bear, probably with multiple bullets. Thompson said there was no evidence at the scene to indicate the bear had been seriously injured or killed.
Hefty Fines, Prison Time
Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho remain under federal protection. So, agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be called to investigate a bear killing and to help determine if it was self-defense or illegal.
It’s legal to kill a grizzly in self-defense, according to federal regulations. However, deliberately killing a grizzly illegally or without just cause can bring a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
Idaho Men Poached Griz
In a recent case in Idaho, two men were hit with stiff penalties after authorities determined they’d unlawfully killed a radio-collared grizzly bear in the Little Warm River area of that state.
The bear’s carcass was discovered half submerged in water April 9, 2021, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department and East Idaho News.
X-rays later revealed the grizzly had been shot at least 12 times, according to reports.
Earlier this year, plea agreements were reached with a father and son charged in the case. Jared Baum pleaded guilty to a felony charge. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation. He was fined $12,500 and lost his hunting privileges for life.
His father, Rex Baum, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to three days in jail, fined $1,400 and lost his hunting privileges for 10 years, according to reports.